Welcome to the Voice’s newest feature, If Blindness Comes is a special pull-out section on diabetes and vision loss, printed in a larger font. If you know someone living with diabetes and vision loss, please pull this section out and share it.
by Chris Danielsen
Have you ever had trouble reading the tiny print on a nutrition label or a menu due to vision loss? Are you tired of asking someone with better vision to read something to you? For many diabetics with visual impairment, one of the greatest frustrations is the difficulty reading. While many books are available on tape, and newspapers and magazines are easy to access with NFB-NEWSLINE®, the day-to-day reading chores are sometimes impossible. The National Federation of the Blind has a solution: a portable, hand-held device that can read just about any print document or packaging aloud!
On July 1, 2006, the NFB introduced a revolutionary innovation in print reading technology for the blind and visually impaired. The Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader is the world’s first hand-held reading machine. While the transformation of an image of text into speech is not new—talking computers have been using it for years—it’s now in a much smaller, easily portable package. The device consists of a digital camera attached to a PDA (palm-size computer), which contains the text translation and speech software.
And it’s incredibly easy to use. Just point the camera at your cereal box or medicine label or bank statement—or even this page of the Voice! The camera snaps an image of the printed page. The software analyzes the text, and then a synthetic voice reads the text aloud.
The Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader can recognize virtually any text on a contrasting background, including print on most labels and packages. The device gives blind and visually impaired diabetics access to an amazing array of printed items. Mike Freeman, a member of the board of directors of the Diabetes Action Network, says: “Now it’s much easier for me to manage my diabetes without the help of a sighted person. I have successfully used the Reader to read nutritional information on frozen food items, restaurant menus, and the medical inserts that come with test strips and insulin cartridges.”
The Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader has received rave reviews from the Baltimore Sun, the Washington Post, the New York Times, U.S.A. Today, and other major media. More importantly, it’s been an enormous hit with blind and visually impaired people who have used it. Patrick in D.C. remarked, “It’s wonderful not to ask someone else for help. There was nothing better than saying, ‘It’s okay, I got it.’” Other user comments included the following:
• “This thing is the beginning of a revolution!”
• “I was able to read the muffin box and make muffins for my daughter without any help! It was great for me, and it made my daughter happy too.”
• “It’s like holding independence in the palm of your hand.”
For more information, contact the Kurzweil–National Federation of the Blind Reader information and sales line at (877) 708-1724, or go to www.nfb.org and click on Products & Technology.